Chico’s new scapegoat

Class warfare has deep roots here, and homeless folks are the new target

The author has been a Chico resident since 1980.

Plantation mentality: a mentality according to which an organization or society is divided into a ruling elite and a class of citizens treated as inferior, especially along social or economic lines.

Have I just described the Chico of today? One could argue that today’s players bring real validity to that definition. Certainly, it exists within Chico’s City Hall. And to a lesser degree, it exists among some on the county Board of Supervisors.

A plantation mentality is nothing new to Chico. It is in our heritage. Annie Bidwell truly believed the Native Americans who originally lived in this segment of the Sacramento Valley were part and parcel of her “plantation.” She worked hard to introduce them to Christian and Western culture.

Even today we maintain our plantations, including old Chico and downtown and our special favorite, the Chapman neighborhood.

Today’s scapegoat is our homeless population. A hundred years ago, we regularly denigrated people solely on the color of their skin and their geographical origin. Today, we denigrate people because of their economic status.

In 2016, we elected a president who appealed to all of the negative instincts within our populace. Suddenly, it was acceptable to hate without any true justification. Local politicians seized upon that call to action and ceased to represent all citizens equally.

In the Chapman neighborhood, a scrap metal yard was deemed far more valuable to the community than the quality of life of its neighbors. In the downtown area, business owners struggling to survive in a changing retail sales climate blamed their difficulties on the vaguely defined “homeless.” Our community is more divided than ever before.

In both instances, ambitious politicians used their authority of office to “maintain the plantation.” The scrap yard remains and the homeless and their supporters go to jail. The plantation knows what is best for everybody.

If you find this disturbing, remember you have an option that is uniquely democratic: You can vote the rascals out of office.